As we lead up to the 2013 NFL Draft, FanSided.com will be bringing you some Q&A’s with some of the draft prospects that your favorite team could soon be welcoming to town. First up was Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Travis Kelce who took some time out of his schedule to speak with FanSided and answer a few questions.
What did Kelce have to say? Check out the interview to find out.
Chris Boyle: From the combine to pro day, what has this whole experience leading up to the draft been like for you?
Travis Kelce: Well, with it all being exhausting, at the same time I’ve loved the experience. I’ve had a blast … meeting all the coaches and the general managers from all the teams. It’s been pretty fun.
Boyle: You scored the game-winning touchdown in the Belk Bowl, an 83-yard reception in the final minutes against Duke. Take us through that play, and how does that rank all-time in your list of football achievements?
Kelce: It was definitely the night-capper of my college career. It was an unexpected play; most of the stuff that happens all over the football field is all instincts. For it to happen in that fashion — to go out on my last play of college football, my last catch, and all in all we ended up winning the game with about three assistant coaches and all the rest were graduate assistants and managers on the team – it was an accomplishment because of the guys we had and the team that we had. We put it all together. To go out like that in the end, it was pretty awesome.
Boyle: Butch Jones had left for Tennessee before the game, so how difficult was the time leading up to the bowl game without your head coach?
Kelce: It was actually pretty smooth, to be honest. All the guys on the team knew the expectations of practice and of play. We knew that the leadership of the team would take over. We sat down when Coach Jones made the decision to go to Tennessee. We were all in there, and once he left, we gathered up everybody and said, ‘You know, we’ve still got one more game left to get 10 wins.’ Everybody bought into that, and we went down into Charlotte and got it done.
Boyle: Your brother, Jason, is an offensive lineman with the Philadelphia Eagles. In the pre-draft process, how have you used him as a resource, and what are some of the things he has told you?
Kelce: It’s more of a business. It’s not people guiding you through it, like college and high school was for me. You’ve got to be proactive. You’ve got to go out and get what’s yours, in a sense. He just told me that our situations were different, and that I was going to have to live it on my own and make the right decisions and say the right things. He’s there for me if I ever have any questions for him, but he’s pretty much let me live the experience on my own.
Boyle: What makes your situations so different?
Kelce: His experience was pretty rough. He had appendix surgery right before the combine, so he was down to about 280 [pounds] during the combine. It was pretty rough.
His experience and mine are similar, in that we’ve both had injuries, but he wasn’t the prototypical size and I’ve been lucky enough to have the God-given ability to be 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6.
His was different because he was an offensive lineman. The marketing stuff is night-and-day between an offensive lineman and a skill-set player. He can do a lot more than someone with the ball in his hand.
Boyle: Jason’s not the first player in your family to play football. Your uncle played at Purdue, and your grandfather played at Ohio. How has football become a part of your family culture?
Kelce: I can’t really say that football is a storied tradition. My grandfather played in college, and my uncle played in college, but they both with into the business aspect of the world instead of going into football. My brother just worked his way into everything. He was a walk-on and earned a scholarship playing a different position. Once he got into the NFL, he had to work his way into a starting role, which is huge for being a sixth-round pick.
[Neither] me nor my brother played football until we got to high school. I think all the sports that we played growing up were kind of the backbone to us playing football. Our ability to pick up on a lot of different things helped us in terms of technique and overall knowledge of competition and stuff like that. Football, as a sport on its own, is very tight in our family, but I can definitely say that me and my brother excelled in just about every sport that we played though.
Boyle: You missed the entire 2010 season due to a violation of team rules. What was that year away from the field like for you, and how did it put things into perspective for you?
Kelce: I grew up in a sense. It was a transition year from when you turn from 19 to 20. I looked around at the people that were my age in the world, and I said I needed to take more initiative in my everyday lifestyle – what I do in the classroom, eating habits, stuff like that. It made me think why not become the ultimate person, instead of becoming the ultimate football player.
Boyle: How frequently do NFL executives bring up the matter during interviews?
Kelce: That’s probably the No. 1 thing they bring up, to be honest. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the guys around me on the football field to where my talents show me excelling, and showing that I can actually play this game. All the questions the scouts have been having are about my character and what happened back in the day, and whether or not I’ve moved on from that – which I have.
Boyle: I read a profile on CBSSports.com that compared you favorably to Brandon Pettigrew of the Detroit Lions. What do you think of that comparison, and what would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?
Kelce: Well, the Pettigrew comparison – I’m not seeing that one, to be honest. That guy’s about 280 and 6-[foot]-8. That’s a big athlete. I’m only about 6-[foot]-5 and 260, so I don’t see that comparison.
I can see it in the way we play. I definitely see the strength in my game being my aggressiveness and how I block. I think my athleticism, my route running and my ability to catch the football and make guys miss is something that’s kind of being overshadowed and not looked at as much.
That’s the one thing I like to do – I like to get the ball in my hands and go.
Boyle: Do you have an idea as to what round you’re likely to be drafted in?
Kelce: I haven’t been asking teams when they’re going to draft me. The draft itself is so unpredictable that you can’t tell a guy, ‘We’re going to draft you right here,’ unless it’s No. 1. I think I’, just going to hang with the family on draft day and tell the coaches that my football is out there. There’s not very much I can do to change the minds of the guys that are going to draft me but let them know that I’m a high-character guy and that I’m all about the team aspect of football.
Boyle: You have ties to Cincinnati (college), Cleveland (hometown) and Philadelphia (older brother). Is there any one team that would be the dream scenario for you?
Kelce: The dream’s always been to go to the NFL. But then again, when you’re a little kid and you’re dreaming in the backyard, you’re always dreaming of playing for the team you’re rooting for. Growing up in Cleveland, you always pictured yourself playing for the Browns but, for a short while there, the Browns weren’t around. I didn’t really jump the bandwagon and find another team. I just watched football for how it was then and from that point on.
There’s no team that I would love to go or hate to go to. Of course, there are wonderful cities out there that I think would be awesome to live in and experience the area. But, I don’t think there’s an organization that I would just say, ‘That’s them. I don’t want to play for anybody but them.’